Ladislav Vychodil (1920 – 2005) is often considered to be the founder of Slovak professional stage design. After he completed his study of painting and technical drawing in Prague and after a further short period of study at the School of Arts and Crafts in Brno (1938), he was, on an initiative of František Tröster, employed by the Slovak National Theatre. Due to the socio-historical situation of the time plus his tenacity and talent Vychodil became the chief stage designer at the young age of only 25. It was not only his works of art but also his work at the Academy of Performing Arts (where he established the Department of Scenography) and his activities and zeal for management in the Arts and Decorations Studios of Slovak National Theatre that had an immense influence on the development of Slovak stage design. Vychodil promoted Slovak stage design at international art fairs and was also part of the process of the establishment of the international scenography event – Prague Quadrennial.
He was the designer of more than five hundred stage designs for both domestic and international dramas. Many of his designs, which are now housed in the art collections of Slovak and Czech institutions as well as in individual collections, document the variety of artistic approaches he applied to achieve his intent. Many of them illustrate his goal better than photographs of the performances. Although he was not anti-new technology and he often incorporated the latest trends in fine art, he was also able to find timeless solutions even through a traditional craft approach. The stage designs he prepared, in cooperation with the opera director Branislav Kriška, staged in the Slovak National Theatre (Christoph Willibald: Orpheus and Eurydice, 1966, or Leoš Janáček: The Makropulos Affair, 1973) are examples of his works that use optical illusions. They also became the motif of a postage stamp issue. He always strived to create a stage design that reflected current events and worked so that Slovak scenography would be recognised all over the world. Thanks to his great contribution, this came true.
Dr. Zuzana Koblišková
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